Simon Ursell’s unique take on sustainable business practices


5 mins read

Our podcast, Telescopic Tech Talks, is a backdoor into tech’s game-changers. And we’ve got insider intel from green business big shots. Like Simon Ursell.

Simon is so inspiring he could motivate a sloth to run a marathon. He’s the managing director at Tyler Grange, an environmental consultancy and newly certified B Corp.

In our latest podcast episode, Simon shared his thoughts on sustainability, including how Tyler Grange is ramping up its green game. Here are the highlights of our conversation. What will you take away from his insights?

What does sustainability mean to you?

Simon makes an important point that often gets overlooked – when it comes to maintaining a healthy planet in a constantly changing world, it’s not just about knowing what to do, but also having the emotional resilience to stick to positive habits, unleashing your inner Captain Planet:

“If you have mental resilience and the ability to affect change then you’re going to be much more successful in tackling the challenges around environmental sustainability.”

Simon builds on his point: “If you want to be a more sustainable business, the first place to start is developing emotional intelligence in your teams. By fostering mental sustainability, you can then begin to address the more tangible aspects of sustainability. Like being smarter about how you use resources — it’s easier to help the environment when you can keep up with these kinds of changes.”

What do you think is the main challenge to environmental sustainability?

Simon believes social inequality is the biggest barrier to addressing climate change:

“It’s incredibly hard to ask people who haven’t got very much to change their habits because they’re focused on securing food and shelter. And that’s a significant proportion of the population (689 million people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than £1.57 a day).

“Promoting social mobility, such as creating policies that increase access to education, healthcare and affordable housing, is a crucial part of mitigating and adapting to climate change.”

Simon continues: “We need to make sure everyone has the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. Only then can we build up the resilience and emotional intelligence needed in society to start effecting change on environmental sustainability.”

How has the 4-day week helped you be more sustainable?

Tyler Grange has cracked the work-life balance code, having recently adopted a permanent 4-day week. Simon explains how it’s helping the business be more sustainable:

“The best gift you can offer anyone is more time. It’s why our 4-day week has got the Tribe hustling harder than a squirrel on a bird feeder. Because it’s an amazing reward, and they have the incentive to work efficiently. Which has had an impact on sustainability.”

"“By finding ways to streamline their work and save time our people are producing more while generating less waste.”"

But the road hasn’t been pothole-free: “It’s a big change, which always causes friction. But we’ve found ways to combat this. For instance, we have a psychologist, Dr. Suzanne Brown, who visits the business once a month for lunchtime sessions with the team. This is part of our strategy to build our emotional intelligence in business, helping the team embrace changes like the 4-day week while fostering a culture of adaptability and resilience.”

What’s next for the business now you’re a B Corp?

“We’re evolving our purpose to make it about happiness,” Simon says. We love that. Tyler Grange knows that happy employees are the secret sauce for sustainability — they’re like the solar panels on the roof of a successful company. When your team enjoys their work, they’ll be able to boost their productivity, creativity and problem-solving skills. That’s the kind of brainpower you need to develop sustainable practices and make a real green impact on the world.

But, hey, how do you keep a pulse on your team’s joy-factor and satisfaction meter? How do you know if your workplace tweaks are sparking positive vibes or just adding to the office wallpaper? Enter Tyler Grange with their tech solution.

They’ve crafted an app that monitors individual’s fatigue and happiness levels. Of course they have – we didn’t expect anything less. Trust Tyler Grange to marry tech prowess with caring for their employees. Simon gives us the juicy details:

Initially, it only looked at fatigue. As ecologists, we’re doing things like bat surveys at dawn and dusk. Which can create a very sleepy team! We partnered with an expert who helped us build the app. It acts as a mini survey on fatigue levels. And we recently added happiness as a question now that it’s our core focus.”

What outcomes has the fatigue app delivered?

“Using the fatigue app, we’re able to track our employees’ level of alertness and wellbeing, identifying when they might be feeling tired, happy or sad,” Simon explains.

He continues: “It’s provided brilliant anonymised data around fatigue and low mood. Allowing us to see patterns over time and discover things we haven’t noticed before.”

"“Since implementing the 4-day week and becoming a B Corp, we’ve noticed a real growth in happiness.”"

“Monitoring data from the app will help us measure the full impact of our happiness and productivity initiatives, such as the 4-day week. After a couple of years, we’ll be able to see how we’ve sustained this level of happiness and reduced fatigue in our organisation. Highlighting ways we can continue to improve. At the moment, the data looks incredibly positive.”

What advice would you give other businesses striving to be more sustainable?

Strive to be a B Corp or face the wrath of Mother Nature herself – that’s Simon’s message in a nutshell. He expands:

“If you haven’t embarked on a B Corp journey yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. You’ll learn so much from the process because it forces you to look at things you’d otherwise miss. It takes a while,” Simon stresses. “And it’s hard. But it has to be hard.”

"“If something is good and it makes a difference, it’s got to be difficult.”"

Simon also says: “You have to think about your whole business. And I would really encourage you to look at emotional intelligence to make sure everyone can get on board B Corp certification and sustain the changes needed to be continuously successful.”

Tune into the full podcast – Simon discusses the impact of the 4-day week on the organisation’s productivity in more detail. Plus other exciting ways technology is shedding light on sustainable practices. Don’t miss out on the insights – listen now.